Hey all so we are currently in the process of attempting to build a small food forest like garden plot, 30ftx45ft, in our backyard and I am having difficulties keeping things moist and I am trying to avoid using our county water because of very high hardness and I assume alkalinity. We do not currently have rain barrels and the like due to budget and space issues.
I made some very small swales 4 to 6 in depth and they have helped control washout quite a bit. I also have a bunch of branches around 6 to 12 in diameter that came with a load of free wood chips and I'm thinking of putting in beaver dam inspired swales. Basically just lay them out on contour on the surface then berm our heavy clay on either side to help get water to stay and soak.
I may try to establish native dandelion, chicory and clover on the berm portion in order to fix the soil. Just wanted to know if you guys see any major problems with this plan or suggestions for improvements. My hope is to get started on it this weekend.
That technique has worked well for me. Took it a bit further this year. These are pix of one of several made late this winter. I laid out a 4 foot wide section of half decayed wood on contour then added about a foot of leaves & quality soil layered on top. Small trench on the uphill side. It was quick & easy except for carrying all that wood & soil up a steep hill. It has done an excellent job of retaining water & preventing runoff. More wood & soil will likely be added late this fall so it will be even more hugely.
For what it's worth there is about 20 tomatoes, 20 squash & melons, various peppers, & a few celery growing on this one now. A part that is out of view is full of okra, black eyed peas, & more melons. Another one has corn, pumpkins, & more squash & melons. All doing great with no irrigation except for daily doses of, um, let's call it personal nitrogen supplements for the corn.
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever.
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Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop